Cleanup begins after Mecklenburg, Union flooding

slyttle@charlotteobserver.comJuly 15, 2014 

  • Rainfall totals

    These were the heaviest rainfall totals recorded by U.S. Geological Survey gauges (in inches):

    5.08 – Matthews Elementary School

    4.79 – Thompson Farm (near I-485/Lawyers Road/Idlewild Road area), Mint Hill

    4.41 – Providence High School

    3.83 – N.C. DOT office (I-485 at Independence Boulevard)

    2.86 – Bain Elementary School, Mint Hill

    2.68 – Olde Providence Elementary School

    2.59 – White Farm, northeast of Mint Hill

    2.54 – McKee Road Elementary School

Residents and business owners in eastern Mecklenburg and western Union counties will be assessing the damage Wednesday in the wake of powerful thunderstorms that caused wind and flood damage Tuesday evening.

The slow-moving storms dropped more than 5 inches of rain in Matthews, forced the closure of several roads, and knocked out power to thousands.

Residents of two homes on Winterwood Drive in Matthews were forced to evacuate when water from a small stream rose rapidly and flooded the residences. And about 10 cars parked at an auto body shop in Matthews where flooded when several feet of water flooded the parking lot.

No injuries were reported.

The storms formed along a cold front that finally pushed across the region overnight, bringing a temporary end to the hot and humid conditions of the past few days. Lower humidity and high temperatures in the middle and upper 80s are forecast Wednesday and Thursday in the Charlotte region.

Temperatures, which soared to a season-high 96 degrees Monday, were back in the lower 90s again Tuesday before thunderstorms took over in the late-afternoon hours.

Wind gusts knocked out power to about 3,000 Duke Energy customers in Mecklenburg County. Social media reports told of shoppers walking in near darkness at a Target store in Matthews after the elctricity went out.

Water covered the parking lot at Axley Collision Center, on West Charles Street near the Matthews downtown district. A short distance away, rescue crews used trucks to reach residents trapped by high water in the Crestdale community.

A National Weather Service-monitored gauge showed 5.08 inches of rain fell at Matthews Elementary School, most of that coming down in a two-hour period starting around 5 p.m. A gauge at Thompson Farm in Mint Hill showed 4.79 inches, and nearly 4.5 inches was recorded at Providence High School.

On Winterwood Drive, in a residential area tucked between N.C. 51 and Rice Road in Matthews, the water rose quickly – by some estimates, climbing 10 to 12 feet in a half-hour. Two vehicles on the road were flooded. So was Marlene Henry’s home.

“I’ve been here seven or eight years and have never seen anything like this,” she said. “We had some flooding near the house once before, but not like this.”

Henry said a few inches of water came into the back of her house, and officials told her to evacuate. A tributary of the McAlpine Creek rose about 10 feet in an hour, surging above a bridge and climbing to window level on a black sedan that was trapped in front of Henry’s house. About 100 yards up the street, an SUV also was trapped.

The people inside both vehicles escaped safely.

“I’ve been living here more than 30 years and have never seen flooding like this,” said Rhonda Adams, who also lives in Winterwood Drive but uphill from the creek. “This is amazing.”

The water receded back into its banks within a half-hour after the storm abated.

Large hail was reported near N.C. 51 at Idlewild Road, and winds blew power lines onto two cars near Independence High School along the Charlotte-Mint Hill line.

Sam Newell Road in Matthews was closed when about 5 feet of water covered the roadway near Crown Point Elementary School. Authorities in Union County closed Stevens Mill Road in Stallings after the Goose Creek climbed 3 feet above flood stage. But there were no reports of residential or business flooding in western Union County.

Earlier in the afternoon, strong thunderstorms battered portions of Cleveland, Cabarrus and Rowan counties.

In Cabarrus County, authorities reported trees down on Tom Query Road at Caldwell Road in Harrisburg, and on U.S. 601 near N.C. 200 south of Concord.

Lyttle: 704-358-6107; Twitter: @slyttle

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